The Friday Blogaround

Jun. 23rd, 2017 04:15 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

This blogaround brought to you by the echo of a familiar song.

Recommended Reading:

Carey Purcell: [Content Note: Sexual assault] The GOP's Health-Care Bill Is Absurdly Cruel to Sexual Assault Victims

Divya Ghelani: [CN: Fire; death; neglect] Grenfell Tower: 'There Are Only the Deliberately Silent, or the Preferably Unheard'

Eillie Anzilotti: A Higher Minimum Wage Is Not Doing the Bad Things Critics Said It Would Do

Keith Reid-Cleveland: [CN: Sexual assault] Bill Cosby Wants to Lecture People on Sexual Assault, Seriously

Kaiser: Nancy Pelosi Is Not Your Mommy; Stop Blaming Her for Everything

Ragen Chastain: [CN: Fat hatred] How Mamamia's Treatment of Roxane Gay Reveals the Fatphobia in Feminist Spaces

Michael Fitzgerald: [CN: Nazism; homophobia; internment] Lawmakers to Annul Convictions of 50,000 Gay Men in Nazi-Era Germany

Dave Holmes: [CN: Spoilers; sexual assault; death] The Book of Henry Is the Best Worst Movie of the Year

Rae Paoletta: The Dumbo Octopus Is Eight Cute Legs of Stone Cold Murder

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!
[syndicated profile] feministing_feed

Posted by bailoun

On Sunday, June 18, near the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Nabra Hassanen was brutally murdered. 

She was 17 years old, black, and wore a headscarf. She was bludgeoned with a baseball bat by 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, who then kidnapped her in his car, killed her, and dumped her body in a pond.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, Nabra and her large group of friends were walking back from a fast food restaurant to the mosque at about 3:40 A.M., prior to the start of the day’s fast. Torres “came upon the teens while he was driving,” and quarreled with a teenage boy on a bike. He then caught up with the group in a nearby parking lot, got out of his car with a baseball bat, and began to chase as the teens ran. Torres was able to catch Nabra, who fell behind.

Nabra was female, black, and visibly Muslim. She and the girls in her group were dressed in long abayas and headscarves. Yet the police department released a statement the day after, saying that they had not found any evidence to consider this a hate crime:

“There is nothing to indicate at this point this tragic case was a hate crime. No evidence has been uncovered that shows this murder was motivated by race or religion. It appears the suspect became so enraged over the traffic dispute it escalated into deadly violence…”

Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said police have “absolutely no evidence” that her killing was motivated by hate.

Responses on Twitter to the police department’s characterization of Nabra’s murder as a “road rage” incident were varied. Most of them were angry.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, told CNN, “[T]here are not always overt statements of bias made during the crime. But we firmly believe that many of these crimes would not have occurred at all if the victims were not perceived as being Muslim.”

*  *  *

In February 2015, three young Muslims were killed in North Carolina. Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha were newly married, and Yusor’s younger sister Razan often came over to stay with the couple at their home. The two women both observed hijab.

Craig Hicks, a neighbor, harassed them continuously in the weeks leading up to the killings. Yusor’s father later said she had told him, “Daddy, I think it is because of the way we look and the way we dress.”

On the day of the murders, Hicks sprayed Deah with bullets, shot the sisters execution-style in the head, and shot Deah once more before he left. The Chapel Hill Police Department stated that the crime was motivated by “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.”

*  *  *

I am a young Muslim woman, and I wear hijab. I live in New York City, among people from every conceivable walk of life; but I harbor no illusion that my identities do not make me more vulnerable to attack.

I pin my headscarf tightly, so that it can’t easily be ripped off.

I throw in a few words of English when I speak Arabic, so that I am not kicked off a plane.

I stand back from the yellow subway platform edge, so that I am not pushed onto the train tracks, or into an oncoming train.

Muslims are increasingly likely to be targeted by hate crimes, with the latest FBI hate crime statistics showing an increase of 67% between 2014 and 2015. More recently, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported a sharp acceleration in Islamophobic incidents after Trump’s November election.

But Muslim women in particular – who can often be more easily identified by their clothing – are even more recognizable targets. Their very presence in public spaces, as both women and visibly Muslim people, places them at a doubly heightened risk of discrimination and violence. In Nabra’s case, she faced a risk that was triply heightened: she was also black.

On May 26, a man killed two people and injured a third on a train in Portland, after they confronted him for shouting racist and anti-Muslim slurs at two teenage girls. One of the girls was black. The other was Muslim, and wore a hijab.

*  *  *

In the early morning of June 21, a 24-year-old man reportedly set Nabra’s memorial on fire. He was arrested and charged with “attending or kindling bonfires.” Sergeant Anna Rose explained, “[T]he memorial did not appear to be specifically targeted.”

The police report did not list hate bias as a possible motivation.

Shakers Are So Dreamy

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:15 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Part six in a hilarious ongoing series.

I was just reminded that I dreamt last night that I was hanging out with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. OBVIOUSLY. Why wouldn't I be?

That seems at least as likely as my being a barista, lol!


Naturally, we shall use this as the jumping-off point for another thread about how frequently I and the other contributors/mods and other Shakers appear in each other's dreams. Shakes-related dreams come up in comments fairly regularly, and one of the most common subjects among reader emails is telling me that they dreamed about me and/or another contributor. (And, no, the vast majority of these are not the least bit creepy.)

So: Fess up. Have I appeared in your dream as your first-grade teacher? Has a fellow Shaker met you for drinks on the moon in your sleep? Has Deeky come to you in the night as a gummi-worm wielding organ grinder? Did I just invent the quadruple entendre with that last sentence...?

Tell the tales of your Shakesville Dreams here.
[syndicated profile] feministe_feed

Posted by Caperton

Our world is a disaster, and it’s easy to get the feeling that everything is bad and nothing will ever be okay. But that’s not entirely the case, and I know that because here’s an adorable girl in a car…
[syndicated profile] feministe_feed

Posted by Caperton

New from the "Fox to Hold Town Halls About Henhouse Security" Department: Bill Cosby, recent recipient of a mistrial in the sexual assault case against him (prosecutors intend to retry), plans to host a series of town halls about not committing sexual assault. Hahaha, no, the town halls will be about sexual assault and the legal system, or specifically not being the victim of lying bitches accusing you of sexual assault.

Daily Dose of Cute

Jun. 23rd, 2017 02:15 pm
[syndicated profile] shakespearessister_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lounging on the couch, looking super cute and fluffy and silly
This flufftastically silly monster right here, tho. LOL.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

We Resist: Day 155

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:00 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump's Argle-Bargle Codswallop on Taping Comey and "I Feel Like We Sort of Choked".


Nahal Toosi at Politico: Trump Administration Dissolves Afghanistan-Pakistan Unit. "The Trump administration on Friday moved to eliminate the State Department unit responsible for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan — transferring its duties to a regional bureau whose leadership ranks have been decimated, two sources told Politico. The development came with less than a day's notice. It deeply rattled U.S. officials who say the shift leaves unclear who is responsible for handling diplomacy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan at a time when the Trump administration is considering ramping up military efforts in that region." OH MY GOD.

Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker at the Washington Post: Trump Is Struggling to Stay Calm on Russia, One Morning Call at a Time.
Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia.

The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump's lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the "fake news" media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president's own Justice Department overseeing the probe.

His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.

It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.
On the one hand, there's a part of me that feels satisfied that Trump is squirming over Russia, because it's the least he fucking deserves when many of us are having major anxiety about it. On the other hand, a stressed-out Trump is a Trump that makes even worse decisions than usual, so. Frankly, the only solution is removing him from office. As soon as possible.

Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey at Politico: Trump Loses Patience with His White House Counsel. "Trump started the week by giving [White House counsel Don McGahn], a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on. ...Trump's willingness to lay into him for the escalation of the probe — largely the result of Trump's own decision to dismiss Comey — illustrates McGahn's falling stock in the West Wing, as well as Trump's desire to find someone to blame for his legal predicament." And Trump's terrible temperament, lack of leadership, and cavernous void of ethics and decency.

Ken Dilanian at NBC News: Coats Tells House Investigators Trump Seemed Obsessed with Russia Probe. "Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told House investigators Thursday that [Donald] Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and repeatedly asked him to say publicly there was no evidence of collusion, a U.S. official familiar with the conversation told NBC News."

Michael Martin at Metro: FBI Official Won't Say That Trump Is Not a Russian Agent, a First for an American President. "Donald Trump's unprecedented actions as president are stacking up daily, but this is a truly new one: A top FBI official will not say whether the president is an 'unwitting agent' who aided Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee [on Wednesday]... 'Did Donald Trump become an unwitting agent of the Russians?' asked Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. After a long pause, Priestap said, 'I can't really comment on that.' 'I don't blame you for not answering that question,' replied Heinrich, to laughter from the audience."

Sarah Kendzior at the Correspondent: Trump Is the Best Autocrat. The Best. Nobody Has a Better Autocrat Than We Do. "There are some who believe Trump is too dim-witted to carry off the manipulations of both law and the public that have defined his presidency. 'He's not playing three-dimensional chess,' pundits insist snidely, unaware that the game is actually charades. Many do not realize they are playing along with him, abetting his administration by reporting planted stories of palace intrigue or doubting the criminality that takes place in front of their eyes. Trump is the kind of guy who can beg Russia to access Hillary Clinton's emails at a press conference and, nearly a year and multiple federal hearings later, still have people asking if there's really anything to that whole Russia story."

Timothy L. O'Brien at Bloomberg: Hey, Mueller, You Should Check Out Iceland. "Earlier this week I wrote about the Bayrock Group, a property developer that did business deals for a decade with [Donald] Trump. Felix Sater — a Bayrock principal who was a career criminal with American and Russian mob ties and who has remained in the Trump orbit — helped reel in funds of murky origin that Bayrock and Trump used for projects such as the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan. And one of Bayrock's biggest financial backers was an Icelandic investment bank, the FL Group. Iceland would seem like an unlikely place for U.S. Justice Department investigators to look as they probe Trump connections with Russia and related matters. Yet there are trails to pursue there."

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Feds Are Investigating Financial Deals Involving Manafort, Son-In-Law. "Financial dealings involving [Donald] Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's son-in-law are under scrutiny by federal investigators, the New York Times reported Friday. Two sources close to the matter told the Times that Manafort bankrolled real estate purchases of luxury apartments and homes in New York and California in collaboration with his son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai, who was sued by a former investor for defrauding him. The sources said it was unclear if this particular investigation was part of the broader federal probe into Russia's election interference and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives."

Jason Leopold and Claudia Koerner at BuzzFeed: Memo Shows Preet Bharara Was Concerned After Phone Call from White House. "Former US Attorney Preet Bharara sent an email to Justice Department officials in New York to express concern about a voicemail he received in March from [Donald] Trump's secretary, Madeline Westerhout, according to emails BuzzFeed News obtained Thursday from the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act. ...Bharara ultimately decided not to speak with Trump and called back the president's secretary to say so. 'At approximately 6:30 p.m., I called back the President's secretary, Ms. Westerhout, and told her I had consulted with the AG's [Attorney General's] office and that it was their advice that I not speak directly to the President at this time,' Bharara's wrote in the email. The next day, Bharara and dozens of other US attorneys were asked to resign. He refused, and the following day, he was fired."

Zack Ford at ThinkProgress: Fox News' Embarrassing, False Attack on James Comey.
Conservative outlets are eager to feed Trump's conspiracy-minded fanbase — and will seize on the tiniest scrap of information to support their efforts. The Daily Mail "reported" Thursday that Comey was seen with his wife entering the New York Times' building. Suspiciously, the two were wearing sunglasses!

This prompted several pro-Trump outlets to speculate that Comey was doing an interview with the Times and possibly sharing more information that would hurt the President.

Fox News picked up the Daily Mail's story about Comey's "sneaky visit," fueling conspiracy theories about Comey, Mueller, and the media all supposedly working together against Trump.

...All of this speculation was wrong. Comey, a foster parent, was attending an event at a law firm in the building in support of a charity that works to find safe homes for abused children.
Good grief. GOOD GRIEF.

* * *

In other news...

[Content Note: Neglect; injury; climate change] Griselda Nevarez at the Guardian: Burned Feet, Parched Throats: Arizona Homeless Desperate to Escape Heatwave. "According to the National Weather Service, when the air temperature is 102 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is shining, blacktop can be heated to as much as 167 degrees. That is hot enough to fry an egg or cook ground beef, though more worryingly, the weather service also notes that in such conditions, 'human skin is instantly destroyed.' Pets' paws are also vulnerable — and it is common for homeless people to have dogs. ...On Thursday, close to 100 homeless people packed the Lodestar Day Resource Center in downtown Phoenix. Some were drenched in sweat and their skin was tomato-red, while others sat and laid their heads on round tables trying to sleep."

Terrible. If people even think at all about homeless people navigating extreme weather, we tend to think about winter more than summer. But summer presents its own set of problems for homeless people (and their pets), and those problems are worsening with climate change.

Phil Wahba at Fortune: Sears Closing Another 20 Stores Amid Ongoing Sales Slide. "Sears Holdings is closing another 20 locations on top of recently announced shutterings, bringing to total store closures to 260 this year for the struggling retailer which is trying unsuccessfully to stanch years of sales declines. The latest closures include 18 Sears stores and two Kmart locations, according to a regulatory filing on Friday by real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, which was spun off by Sears in 2015. These stores will start liquidation sales by June 30 and be closed by mid-September, Sears said in a statement."

I'm including this in the We Resist thread not because there's much we can do to resist the collapse of retail (besides shop in brick and mortar stores), but because: 1. The attendant job losses are all the more reason to resist the Republicans' assault on the social safety net; and 2. The continued decimation of retail as a result of online shopping must underwrite a demand of all political leaders to craft serious policy to meaningfully address automation.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

"I feel like we sort of choked."

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:00 am
[syndicated profile] shakespearessister_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

I feel like we sort of choked. Those are the words of "a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia," quoted in this massive piece by the Washington Post's Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, detailing the timeline of discoveries of the means and extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and the subsequent responses of the Obama administration, the intelligence community, and Congressional leaders.

After reading the entirety of the piece, which I highly recommend, it's hard to disagree with that official's assessment.

This passage in particular is haunting me: "To some, Obama's determination to avoid politicizing the Russia issue had the opposite effect: It meant that he allowed politics to shape his administration's response to what some believed should have been treated purely as a national security threat."

It haunts me for two reasons:

1. Although I had criticisms of Obama's presidency, I never felt—never—like I could not implicitly trust him on national security. I always felt confident that we could trust him to protect us. So to find out that we couldn't, and that the reason we couldn't is because he was afraid of accusations of partisanship, is really shaking me.

2. As longtime readers will no doubt recall, my biggest hesitation about Obama during the 2008 election was that I feared he did not take seriously enough the intransigence of Congressional Republicans. I had strong reservations about his emphasis on bipartisanship and worried that the Republicans would use it against him. It's really fucking something that my greatest fear about Obama may turn out to be the very thing that got us into the mess in which we now find ourselves.

Make no mistake: I am powerfully angry at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and all his party compatriots, for abandoning all pretense of patriotism and threatening President Obama with accusations of partisanship, when he appealed to them to publicly disclose Russian meddling ahead of the election, when voters absolutely should have been made aware of that information.

I am angry at the leaders of intelligence agencies who dragged their feet, and who didn't connect the dots they should have. I have particular contempt for (no surprise) James Comey, who "initially agreed to attach his name [to the administration's first public comment on Russia's 'active measures'] officials said, but changed his mind at the last minute, saying that it was too close to the election for the bureau to be involved."

That was on October 7, three weeks before he sent his letter about the Clinton email investigation to Congress. So a month before the election was "too close" for the FBI to make a statement about foreign meddling that was being orchestrated on behalf of one of the candidates, but 11 days was not too close for the FBI to make a public statement about an investigation of the other candidate. Cool.

I do not singularly hold accountable Obama, by any means. But he was the president, and it was ultimately his call, and I don't think he made the right one — even as I want to stress, again, that I understand how difficult a decision it was, especially without the benefit of hindsight.

Charles P. Pierce writes on this subject:
It's at moments like this that I wish he'd never given that speech in Boston in 2004. It froze him into a public persona and a political stance that made even justifiable partisan politics look like base hypocrisy. It is entirely possible that, at what we must now believe was a critical moment (if not the critical moment) of his presidency, the better angels of a president's nature were the voices he should have avoided at all cost.

The interference of Russia in our election, and our reaction thereto, is a complex (and still unfolding) story. It is also a very uncomplicated story of simply not doing enough when we should have.

And the why of that failure is partly because of miscalculated priorities — avoiding the appearance of partisanship over protecting national security at any cost — but is also partly because of a pernicious cultural narrative we have about Strong Women.

We celebrate Strong Women for overcoming the horrendous barricades we put in their way, and we do so by dehumanizing them as superhumans and heroines. We imagine that they don't need any help, even when they're women who talk about how each of us needs a village to succeed.

Others will surely disagree with me, but I think this single line might be the most important of the entire WaPo piece: "The assumption that Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency."

That's the problem, right there.

The Obama administration assumed that Clinton would win, even in the middle of unprecedented foreign meddling into the election with the explicit purpose of undermining her campaign.

Clinton had absolutely earned a magnificent amount of confidence from her president, her party, and the electorate — but the assumption that she would win, in spite of Russians doing everything they could to ensure she wouldn't, while the Republicans and large parts of the political media were doing precisely the same, is not reasonable confidence. That's abandonment justified with precisely the dehumanizing narrative of the Strong Woman, who is meant to be uniquely impervious to oppositional forces, no matter how harmful.

Clinton needed help to win (the electoral college and thus the presidency). She needed her village.

But her village didn't step up. They just assumed that she would single-handedly take care of demolishing all the incredibly powerful forces that were conspiring to derail her.

And then they used that assumption to justify doing nothing.

When Hillary Clinton returned to her alma mater to deliver the commencement address last month, she said: "You know, our culture often celebrates people who appear to go it alone. But the truth is that's not how life works. Anything worth doing takes a village."

Surely that includes protecting the sovereignty of this nation and its democratic institutions.


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